I suppose you can never completely know any city through and through, but one can get kind of complacent in the place called “home,” not exploring because there isn’t the time-sensitive pressure that accompanies traveling elsewhere. That’s why I try to consider myself a “tourist” no matter where I am! I always have a map, a list of places to visit, usually even my camera, and I could be going just down the street from where I currently live. I want to explore every single day.

Recently I have been going on a lot of marathon bike rides (May I describe them as “marathon” even though they are not on foot?) that in two subsequent weekends have both hit the 25-mile mark. Yes, I hurt the next day, and yes I love it! I have been able to see such a large chunk of New York from a vantage point so different from that of walking or driving. The weather has been absolutely perfect here and I’m continually impressed by the upkeep of the city’s greenways (and that of my leg muscles).

Last week, quite arbitrarily but in typical Alicia list/impulsive fashion, I said to myself, “I’m going to see/visit/eat at 10 new places this weekend.” I didn’t define “places,” emphasizing the “new” part and come to think of it, er count, I think I only hit up 9. (No matter, I think I made up for it already during the week!) I haven’t been this excited to live in New York for a while, and this renewed passion for the city has made me want to consume everything it has to offer. Fortunately, biking allows me to see a lot, quickly (but not too quickly), and to eat a lot along the way because I’m burning calories like crazy! Don’t you love how that works out?!? My body is telling me to eat 5 meals a day! So, I plan out a basic route, then write down restaurants, shops, museums, cafes, parks, etc. that will make good breaks, pack my fruit-and-nut mix, and I’m on my merry way.

So, what did I see? Well, separate from the bike ride, I went to Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches (it’s all about the pickled-ness, isn’t it?) and then to Court Pastry Shop for some cannoli. The anise smell inside the pastry shop reminded me exactly of my (Italian) grandma’s homemade pizzelles. I got a little homesick for a few minutes. I also checked out Abigail’s Wine Bar, which was spacious and stunningly beautiful with hues of red and flickering candles, so it’s a shame that it’s in the not-so-nice part of Prospect Heights.

My bike ride took me from the very bottom of Manhattan almost to the very top. I stopped in at the Skyscraper Museum, which is no bigger than a Chelsea gallery!!! Then onto Greenflea, a flea market on the Upper West Side, and the little red lighthouse dwarfed further by sitting underneath the gargantuan George Washington Bridge. I find myself stumbling on places I’ve wanted to see for the 5+ years I’ve lived here, exhaling an “at last”. I loved biking by everyone’s barbecues and picnics–the smells and interpretations of what the diverse population of New York considers Labor Day food is its own melting pot.

Towards the end of the trip, I planned for dinner around the Columbia University area, also the sight of the largest cathedral in the world (supposedly!), St John the Divine. I was reminded of the fantastic Halloween event they have here every year with the Procession of the Ghouls, organ music and a silent black and white film. How to describe? Eerily pleasant and positively unique. I went my first year in New York, reluctantly by myself, and haven’t been since. I’m making it a point to revisit this October. As for dinner, I went to Tom’s Restaurant, the one from Seinfeld! Well, the facade is anyway. Turkey noodle soup + chicken fingers + fries. Lastly, I finished off the night at the Hungarian Pastry Shop for some linzer tart. (Hey, I honored 50% of my ethnic background via Hungarian pastry and Italian pastry! Gotta stay true to my roots).

I’m looking forward.